Tag Archives: Insanity

Balak’s an Idiot (and so am I)

Then Balak‚Äôs anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed themthese three times.”
Numbers 24:10 (NIV)

Yesterday morning, after writing my post and finishing my quiet time, I settled in at the breakfast table. Wendy was just finishing reading our previous chapter as she waited for me.

Balak is an idiot,” she said with a chuckle and shake of her head.

I laughed, and agreed with her. The narrative clearly portrays the Moabite king as not being the sharpest tool in the shed. Balaam the seer clearly spoke the terms up front to Balak. He would say only what the Lord told him to say, no matter how much treasure Balak offered Balaam to say what he wanted to hear.

Nevertheless, Balak makes Balaam view the Hebrew encampment from three different vantage points, expecting Balaam’s prophetic message to change with the view. When the prophecy doesn’t change to his favor, Balak tells Balaam that he’s not going to pay. Duh. Balaam reminds Balak that he knew that up front.

It is out of Alcoholics Anonymous that we got the popular notion that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. It appears Balak could have benefitted from the Twelve Steps.

In the quiet this morning, however, I’m reminded that I can often find my own reflection in the individuals I criticize. There are stretches of my own journey in which I was looped in endless cycles of brokenness. Truth be told, I have found that significant spiritual progress usually requires breaking systemic negative patterns of thought or behavior. The further you progress the deeper, more intimate, and less obvious those negative patterns are to the casual observer. Recovering Alcoholics will tell you that they once thought drinking was their problem. Journeying through the Twelve Steps you discover that your addiction is just the tip of the iceberg.

This morning as I laugh at King Balak’s idiocy, I have to humbly confess that I am also laughing at myself.

Have a good weekend, my friend.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 9

Round and around and around. Appetites insatiable, stuffing and gorging themselves left and right with people and things. But still they starved. Not even their children were safe from their rapacious hunger. Isaiah 9:20 (MSG)

I have an appetite for food that, left to myself, finds me overweight and unhealthy. I have an appetite for sex which, left unchecked, leads me to all sorts of dark places and disastrous consequences. I have an appetite for leisure and, if I allow it to take over, it will lead to several areas of my life falling apart. I have an appetite for riches that, without proper boundaries, will leave me indebted and empty-handed. I have an appetite for pleasure that, if I'm not careful, will lead me into a never-ending cycle of looking for new highs for which I will sacrifice anything and everything.

I wish I'd thought more, and understood more, about the core issue of my appetites when I was younger. Increasingly, I begin to understand how much of the life-pain I experience comes from uncontrolled, unchecked, insatiable appetites which demand to be fed constantly and increasingly. Heedlessly feeding my appetites always leave me empty, craving more.

As I've learned to choose the path of contentment over the insane roundabout of my appetites, I've gained increasing clarity. God's message says that godliness with contentment is a means of great gain. I'm finding it true. I can't move forward if I'm running in circles trying to endlessly feed an insatiable hunger.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and mrjoro